PJ wrote about his teacher Michael Gillespie: In one of (his acting) classes he gave us these three words. Commit to Comfort. As a master in Alexander Technique, he gave us tips on controlling ourselves mentally and thus physically, while at the same time keeping ourselves loose, limber, and receptive. Like all of his lessons, this applied directly to our acting, and extended to our everyday lives.
It means exactly what it says. To commit to comfort. To know that life is far too short and people lay down far too many regulations to bog yourself down, limit yourself, and remain in discomfort. It means to do what you need to do to achieve the level of happiness you deserve, so long as you don’t disrupt someone else’s.
Anyone who is at all serious about learning the Alexander Technique is, in effect, committing to comfort.
The fact is that most of us are nowhere near as comfortable in our bodies as we could be; we complain of aches, pains, fatigue, movement limitations…the list goes on and all. Of course lessons in the Alexander Technique are no guarantee that you will loose all your discomforts, but for well over a century many students of the Technique have experienced major changes in that direction.
So…is it just that simple? Take some Alexander lessons and you’re likely to feel better?
Quoting PJ again: On the flipside, it also means to accepting discomfort. I mean, after all, we all need to be uncomfortable to know what comfort and relief is. It means that “a good kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Walt Disney said that. It means that sometimes you need to sit in insecurity, anger, melancholy, or negativity, and acknowledge its existence.
Alexander Technique lessons are not an automatic free ride to comfort. But if you’re really serious about living a more comfortable life, and are willing to experiment with what you learn in Alexander lessons – to change how you think, stand, sit and move – the rewards can be extraordinary.
As Nikolaas Tinbergen said in his acceptance speech upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1973:
…we (his family members) already notice, with growing amazement, very striking improvements in such diverse things as high blood pressure, breathing, depth of sleep, overall cheerfulness and mental alertness, resilience against outside pressures, and also in such a refined skill as playing a stringed instrument.
So from personal experience we can already confirm some of the seemingly fantastic claims made by Alexander and his followers, namely that many types of under-performance and even ailments, both mental and physical, can be alleviated, sometimes to a surprising extent, by teaching the body musculature to function differently.
I’d love to hear your experiences of committing to comfort with the Technique. Did it take you awhile to take Alexander ideas seriously? What were some of the obstacles you encountered? What advice do you have for new students of the Technique? How about for people who are thinking about taking lessons?